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Police face anger over suspect killings

Anti-terror squad accused after seven shot dead

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

January 7, 2013

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Activists yesterday accused a police anti-terrorism unit of gross human rights violations following the killing of seven suspected militants last week.

Members of the so-called Special Detachment 88 killed the militants in three related raids in South Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara provinces on Friday and Saturday. Another 11 suspects were arrested, while two managed to escape.

All were suspected of involvement in the killings of two police officers in Poso district, Central Sulawesi province in October.

Police spokesman Brigadier General Boy Rafli Amar yesterday admitted the dead suspects had not shot at the anti-terror unit’s members during the raids, but suspects in at least one of the locations had explosives ready to be detonated.

The admission immediately drew angry reactions from rights groups.

Haris Azhar, executive coordinator of the Jakarta-based Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), accused the police of not wanting to take the suspects alive.

“Why did the police shoot them dead? Isn’t this a form of extrajudicial killings? Where is the police’s professionalism?” he asked.

"The police should have tried to arrest them. Killing them like that is a human rights violation."

Worse, such brutality will stir resentment and encourage terrorism in Indonesia, he told

He then called for an independent investigation into the killings.

The call was backed by Son Hadi from Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, a group founded in 2008 by jailed Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir.

He also branded the killings a serious human rights violation.

“We urge certain parties, including the police and National Commission on Human Rights, to thoroughly investigate this case because it does harm to religious values and humanity,” he said in a statement.

“We demand the establishment of an independent and transparent fact finding team which can conduct a thorough investigation into the killings,” he continued.

Special Detachment 88 was founded in 2002 soon after the Bali bombings. The unit has been responsible for the arrests of hundreds of suspected militants. However, since its establishment, its officers have killed more than 70.  

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